Fueling Up for Long Runs

One of the key parts of marathon training is figuring out what works for you during runs and what doesn’t. This goes for everything from shoes, to gear, to hydration and finally, to fueling. I’m still trying to figure out the best fueling strategy for me, and while every runner is different, I decided to seek some advice from my followers on Twitter. Here’s what they had to say! – H.M.
  1. Any other fuel suggestions for long runs? #runchat #marathontraining http://pic.twitter.com/LUQMD8mfKt
  2. Question for runners for my blog: What’s your favorite long-run fuel? #runchat
  3. “@FitHappyGirl: Question for runners for my blog: What’s your favorite long-run fuel? #runchat” sandwich! :)
  4. @FitHappyGirl water and Gu and sometimes jelly beans. Everything else hurt my stomach even Gatorade
  5. “@FitHappyGirl: Question for runners for my blog: What’s your favorite long-run fuel? #runchat”WE ARE GU PEOPLE!
  6. @FitHappyGirl starburst!! Or mint chocolate gu. But really… Starburst :)
  7. @FitHappyGirl at the Vanguard Way 65 Ultra @Helen_10pt and I fuelled ourselves on sausages & cheese. Yum! LSD is fat burning pace…
  8. @fithappygirl gu chomps and sports beans. Basically I want to be eating candy.
  9. @FitHappyGirl Strawberry Banana PowerBar Gel! Not as thick as other gels. Tastes like melted fruit snacks!
  10. @FitHappyGirl pre: loaded oatmeal. During: Clif shots and Gatorade
  11. @FitHappyGirl Peanut butter sandwich crackers. I generally have 1-6 of ‘em stashed on my person at all times, long run or not.
  12. @FitHappyGirl honey stinger pink lemonade chews or peeled brand unsweetened dried cherries

Picking the perfect pre-race breakfast

(via Pinterest)

After months of training, I am now three days away from running my first ever half marathon. I can’t believe how fast it has come but I feel so confident in my training and ready to run happy. However, one of my biggest concerns this past week has been how to fuel my body before the race.

I asked some friends and sought advice from Runner’s World and Active.com and the one major take away from everything- don’t change anything. I’ve known this all along, the worst time to try something new is on race day but I have a problem. In my training thus far, I really haven’t had much to eat on long-run days besides a cup of coffee and some water. Even when I did my 14-miler, the only thing I ate beforehand was a pack of Chomps and Gatorade.

However, I have fueled before some smaller races before with a slice of whole grain toast, some fruit (usually strawberries or oranges) and some coffee. This has always been a pretty good pre-race meal to me so I think I’m going to stick to this for the half as well.

After further research however, I had questions like, how much time should I leave between breakfast and start time. The answer I found from Runner’s World was at least two to three hours before. Although this will mean a very early morning for me (the race starts at 8 a.m. but I’ll have to be there at 7 a.m. and it’s an hour away) but it will allot enough time for digestion so I can start feeling nourished but not full and heavy.

According to the Runner’s World article as well I should sip water up to a half and hour before the race starts, this way I’ll be hydrated but not over-hydrated and have to stop at a port-a-pottie along the course.

Since I’ve basically already decided on doing my toast-fruit-coffee routine, I’m not planning on trying anything different but I’m interested in why this has worked for me in the past? According to an Active.com article, a solid pre-race meal should consist of 80 percent carbohydrates. The article said the type of carbs isn’t as important but many runners, like myself, tend to choose more bland foods like a whole grain toast or some runners like oatmeal.

Some ideas for pre-race fuel could be:

  • Bagel or toast topped with either peanut butter or a low-fat spread- many people eat this for breakfast routinely so it’s always good to stick to routine come race morning. Also, bagels and toast are chalk-full of carbs which are needed for fuel during a race.
  • Bananas- lots of runners love bananas as an addition to any pre-race meal (personally, I hate bananas so I can’t speak to this very much) but they have 30 grams of carbohydrates, low in fat and high in potassium which is lost while sweating during running.
  • Energy Bar- a lot of runners eat energy bars before a race but this is something you really have to be careful with in terms of not trying anything new. Stick to a bar you know that’s rich in carbohydrates but not too high in fat or protein (save those bars for after the race).
  • Shakes- there are a lot of runners who like to make a real-replacement shake before a race. I’ve never tried this but there are tons of recipes out there for these kinds of shakes.
  • Oatmeal- this is another good fuel-boosting carbohydrate option. It’s bland but won’t upset your stomach while racing.

I would also recommend drinking some kind of caffeine if you’re a frequent morning caffeine-drinker. I have coffee every morning so I try not to change this on race day but sometimes I’ll opt for caffeinated tea on race day instead of coffee (because I like cream in my coffee and that can be weird).

As always, DON’T try anything new on race day. A poorly picked pre-race meal could possibly wipe out all of those months of training and preparation. Stick to what you know, race hard and look forward to that amazing post-race meal!

What is your go-to pre-race breakfast fuel? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!

ENERGYbits review for runners

A few weeks ago I started noticing a very active Twitter handle pop up on my Twitter feed. It was from a Boston-based company called ENERGYbits and they were tweeting back and forth with a lot of the runners and bloggers that I followed and before I knew it they were following me as well. They asked me if I would be interested in sampling their product and writing a review, and based on reviews and comments I heard from other runners I thought, “For sure!”

Turns out one of the brand managers is actually a fellow UMass Amherst alum so I knew it was a good idea! According to their website, ENERGYbits are natural algae tabs that are designed to boost endurance, energy and enhance health. As a runner, I thought these bits could be a great way to fuel before a run, especially a long run, to keep me going until the final mile.

ENERGYbits are made of 100 percent organically grown spirulina algae. Now when we think algae we think of that nasty stuff that floats to the top of ponds and lakes during the summer, but it turns out that nasty stuff has some amazing health benefits. At just one calorie per tab, the spirulina in ENERGYbits has the highest concentration of protein in the world- three times the amount in steak. These tiny little bits also contain 40 vitamins and minerals, Omega-3s and 64 percent protein.

Nutritional information via ENERGYbits’ website.

I decided to try ENERGYbits before my long run two weeks ago to see if they really did help me with endurance and energy. I set out for a long and slow 8-mile loop through nearby neighborhoods. Before heading out I took the recommended dosage of 30 ENERGYbit tabs. You’re probably thinking, 30?? That’s an insane amount of tabs! But really it wasn’t that bad. The tabs are so tiny and easy to swallow, you won’t even notice there are so many. However, one word of caution- they do not smell good and they taste even worse. The people at ENERGYbits suggest you swallow the tabs with a liquid as opposed to chew them as they are an acquired taste. But who chews vitamins anyways? I took them with some juice and could barely taste them.

Once I was good to go for my run I set out the door with my Runmeter tracking my run and waited for the results. I didn’t notice a huge difference in my running but I felt very comfortable and energized, but not in that jacked-up caffeine-high kind of way. I just felt very awake, which was great considering it was 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The real dealbreaker was at the end of my run when I checked my Runmeter to see I ran 8 miles in 1:05. What. That was an 8:08 average pace. Insanity!?

I can’t say for sure ENERGYbits caused me to run like the wind but they must have done something right because I’ve never run a long run that fast in my life. Moral of the story? If you’re looking to boost energy and endurance in a natural way be sure to check out ENERGYbits. They worked for me and have worked for countless other endurance athletes, so they might work for you too!

There are also three other bits in the Boston-based company’s inventory: RECOVERYbits, VITALITYbits and SKINNYbits. They are also all made out of algae but serve different purposes. If you’re interested in trying them out use the code BLOG at the checkout to get 10 percent off your purchase!

You can also find ENERGYbits on Twitter @ENERGYbits and on Facebook. Have you tried ENERGYbits? If so, let me know what you thought about them in the comments section below!

DISCLAIMER: ENERGYbits sent me a complimentary sample to review. I did not receive compensation for the review and they were not guaranteed a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Protein-packed “bomb”elette for runners

Ingredients and the finished product!

I’ve been wanting to write more posts about nutrition for runners because it’s so important to properly fuel your body both pre and post run, but to be honest, I don’t get many chances to cook. However, last weekend I had no plans so I was finally able to make a real breakfast- as opposed to my usual cereal, fruit and coffee- and I thought I’d share it with y’all. (This is my first actual recipe post so bear with me!)

My sister likes to called loaded omelettes, bombelettes because they are ‘da bomb. So, in her honor, I’m naming my veggie packed omelette from last weekend the veggie bombelette. This recipe is super easy and paired with some whole grain toast, will give you a great nutritional meal to start off your day.

The ingredients are simple:

  • 2 egg whites- some people buy the egg whites in the carton but I like to use actual eggs and separate the whites and yolk on my own
  • A dash of low-fat milk
  • Part skim shredded mozzarella cheese- I used the low fat kind
  • Assorted bell peppers sliced thin
  • Broccoli- try to cut it small so it doesn’t get to cumbersome with the egg
  • Red onion- sliced thinly
  • Seasoning to taste

The steps are also easy. After separating your egg whites, I like to add a dash of milk (who doesn’t need more calcium?) and after chopping up your veggies, spray a frying pan with fat-free cooking spray so nothing sticks to the pan. Then, add your veggies so they can roast a little before adding the egg. Once the veggies are a little softer, pour the egg white mixture over the veggies and swish it around the pan so it’s evenly distributed. Turn the heat down to medium/medium-high. Sprinkle some cheese onto the egg and then fold the egg over to make an omelette. I failed on this part a bit so mine turned into more of a veggie scramble, but that’s fine too.

The protein and calcium you get from eggs is so important for your muscles for running and the veggies add fiber which is packed with health benefits. This is probably too much to eat before a morning run but is perfect for some post-run nutrition. I hope you enjoy, bon appetit!

Post-run protein shake

I’ve been looking into incorporating protein shakes into my post-run routine. I always thought protein shakes were just for juiceheads who spend their entire lives at the gym, and I also thought only guys drink protein shakes. After reading a lot of articles about nutrition for runners, I realized protein shakes are the perfect way to rebuild and build muscle after running.

After my 8-mile long run this week I tried a protein shake made by my cousin. We kind of threw everything into the blender and hoped for the best but it came out really, really great! We’ll call it the Strawberry Pineapple Vanilla Protein Shake. I thought it tasted like summer which is always a good thing in my book!

Strawberry Pineapple Protein Shake

Strawberry Pineapple Protein Shake recipe:

  • 1/2 cup of strawberries, cut into fourths (it’ll be easier to blend)
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple, cut into chunks (many grocery stores sell pineapple already cut up, we got ours at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup of non-fat milk (can substitute for almond milk too!)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein
  • 1 tablespoon of Sunflower Seed butter (can be found at Trader Joe’s as well)
  • Ice

Just blend all of the ingredients together until smooth and enjoy! I’m going to be trying a bunch of different recipes for protein shakes and will share them on Fit Girl Happy Girl. If you have any good recipes of your own or have tried other post-run shakes, please tell me about them in the comments section!